Tough science

Updated: 2014-06-13 07:32

By Chen Liang (China Daily)

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Tough science
The Moon Waterfall is a landmark of the Dulong River valleys. Peng Jiansheng/China Daily

Difficulties abound

"I attended 90 percent of our 50 photographic surveys," says Guo Liang, 43, one of eight IBE wildlife photographers in the team and another IBE co-founder. "So far, this trip has been one of the unluckiest. The difficulties are beyond our expectation."

Because of the lack of power, the light trap brought by Ji Yun, a 27-year-old insect researcher from Beijing, was powered up only twice-on the first and last nights. Over the eight days the team was stuck in the village, the trap failed to attract many interesting insects, except various kinds of moths.

Lei Bo, a 37-year-old insect micro-photographer from Guangdong province, and Ji had to search for insects in the rain.

"Bugs are usually hiding beneath leaves and difficult to locate," Lei says. "Finding them is a challenge. It's even harder to take nice photos of them with an umbrella."

Wang Jian, a researcher of amphibians and reptiles with Honghe University in Mengzi, Yunnan province, became frustrated trying to catch frogs and toads.

"Tree frogs rarely sing in the rain," Wang says. "Even though they sing sometimes, it's difficult to catch them on plants on rainy nights."

Niu Yang, a botanist with the Kunming Institute of Botany under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and also flora photographer, had difficulty finding flowering plants in the village.

"Even though fauna and flora here are mainly subtropical at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, many plants display certain tropical characteristics because of the area's excellent water-heat condition," he says. "As a result, the diversity of plants is so high that you can hardly find a whole patch of the same flowering plant. Flowering plants are here and there, often growing individually. You have to reach forests on steep and slippery slopes to find them, which is impossible in this weather."

The most anxious members of the group were the three wildlife photographers who were carrying heavy telephoto lenses and tripods-Zuo, Guo and Dong Lei, another IBE co-founder. Their equipment was more sensitive to the wet conditions and they often had to rely on cars to move around.

In the village, the cars were almost useless. The photographers were stuck sitting in the corridor of the guesthouse, where they stayed for the whole day, zooming in on birdlife that appeared in the paddy fields in front of their rooms.